19 June, 2021

The Human Plunger

Terror clouds Pakistan as Sheikh faces death in the Pearl case

The Human Plunger
It's early morning of July 15 and the Central Prison of Hyderabad, Sindh, is bustling with cops. It's here the anti-terrorism court of Justice Ali Ashraf Shah is to deliver the verdict in the sensational Daniel Pearl murder case. There are armed guards atop buildings and police jeeps zip around, patrolling the vicinity. A government aircraft has earlier brought chief prosecutor Raja Qureshi from Karachi. Officials are edgy, warned as they had been through a spate of anonymous e-mails about retaliation against a death sentence for the accused.

At around 10 am, the accused—Omar Sheikh, Sheikh Adil, Salman Saquib and Fahad Naseem—begin to walk to the makeshift court. Some 2,500 prisoners, locked in their cells, wave at the quartet. Soon their slogans rend the air in solidarity.

At 10.30 am, Justice Shah calls out Omar Sheikh's name, asking him to stand. He reads out the verdict: it's a death sentence. Omar smiles at the judge and sits down. Justice Shah names other accused, one by one sentencing them to life imprisonment. When he leaves the court, Sheikh Adil's...

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